When I was approached to participate on a panel discussion for the Florida Film Festival 2012, my first reaction was 'why?' This is a FILM festival. Then as I started to look into the food aspects of the festival it began to make much more sense. Reading further, I discovered that a couple of years ago, the festival featured Anthony Bourdain and Norman Van Aken for their food world representatives and now they wanted me, my reaction was again 'why?' Were they getting desparate? Could they not scrape up any big name food people?
Well in short, I'm glad they asked me. Getting to meet the folks who organize the festival was great. The panelists were all very interesting in different ways. Actually, I was mostly impressed that each one of them has managed to forge a career on their own and managed to make a living through either books, blogging, teaching, and doing pop-up dinners and other cool events. It is amazing to me how being a chef has come to mean so many different things today. My approach to most things is to take it in and learn. This approach makes me feel blessed and appreciative. I see myself still as a cook who just wants to share information and learn from anyone I can. I would like to thank the Florida Film Festival 2012 organizers for giving me this opportunity.
The panel discussion titled "Digital Dish: Taste and Presentation" began to form as a discussion via email and then over lunch before the event. The topics bounced around how food is reliant on experience for enjoyment, how stories give meaning to dishes, modern cuisine: what is it really and what place does it have in cuisine, the importance of trying new things, and most importantly how media and social media are impacting the food world. Marcel Vigneron (far left), myself, Jeff Potter of "Cooking for Geeks," Martha Foose, and Gui Alinat were the panelists. I think I was the only member without a cookbook. Our backgrounds were all very different, but it made for a more rounded discussion. Martha, who among us is embedded most deeply into the book world, has two amazing cookbooks "Screen Doors and Sweet Tea" and "A Southerly Course." I just loved her southern Mississipian accent and personality. I really miss that. She is someone you could just sit back and listen to all day... preferrably outdoors with a cocktail. Jeff comes from a computer engineering background and claims to not be a chef. His merging of scientific process with food has taken him many places. Marcel is a hustler. I say that totally as a compliment. I appreciate chefs who have forged their own way. He's got some good ideas and is not afraid to put everything on the table without recourse. His latest venture is working with Haru Kishi on an egg-centric pop-up series called The Coop. Gui is the chef/owner of a high end catering operation in Tampa and is also a food writer. He writes a newpaper column and has a cookbook, "The Chef's Repertoire."
The discussion has unjarred my brain from a few jammed ruts, and the biggest part for me is the motivation to keep going. In the beginning, Chadzilla was a way to learn and meet other chefs and food people. There wasn't much information on the internet for the 'modern cuisine' that was becoming known and Chef K and I just wanted to put it out there. The failures and successes and 'in between' experiences brought us closer into the growing cyber chef community. Today, you can't throw a pair of fine-pointed tweezers without hitting a book or blog that tells you the secrets behind the molecular smoke and mirrors. That was partly why Chadzilla has gone almost dormant. Not that that was our only focus, but there is so much food stuff out there in general today it's overwhelming. We still love to learn and share, but when necessity dissappears we need to find a new mother. I don't want to have a strict themed blog or look for kitchy subject matter. It should not be used exclusively for promotion. I don't want to put ad's in it (never did) and aside from accepting a few free books, have never capitalized on it. What then is next? It my most simple answer, it is only a love of food and the processes that take it through it's transformations. Is that enough? If it isn't, then I'm not up for any alternatives. Hope to see you around.